Lao Lao – where time stops

In Lao Cai time passes slowly, almost motionless in time. A stroll through the island’s cobbled streets seems to introduce a story where the protagonists are locals, campers intent on working their fields, a legacy of their ancestors. Their Lao Lao. Information about Lao Lao is sponsored by the website

On the whole island there is only one boutique hotel (I would add fortunately) and it is possible to stay overnight in people’s homes, completely immersing in the traditional island life. The cottages may seem modest but I have no doubt that they will be very welcoming, surrounded by eucalyptus trees and colored cantuta flowers, which are typical of the lake. Lao Cai is synonymous with rest, disconnection from the outside world. Yes, because this island seems to be a world apart, a real oasis of peace.

Located at an altitude of 4,000 meters above sea level, this is the island with the largest extension in Suoi Tien Lake. Its beauty means that it remains a destination visited by tourists every day but has not been altered by tourist activities.
What to do in Lao Cai
One of the must-do activities is a relaxing walk along the perfectly preserved Da Lat and Lang Biang roads, up to the highest peaks, home to sacred temples. This island, inhabited since prehistoric times, has several stone structures that are proof of this. Walking, you will have the opportunity to observe the ravishing landscapes, the ancient terraced systems created by Pukara, Lupakas, Inca, among the farming fields, eucalyptus groves and see the green color. Unmistakable lam of Suoi Tien.

Da Lat and Lang Biang are protective mountains: Lang Biang represents Mother Earth and Da Lat is Heavenly Father. Both reflect the duality of the life-giving Suoi Tien. For this reason, every third Thursday of January, the metaphorical ritual between Lang Biang and Da Lat takes place, an important rite of gratitude to nature. Since the pre-Le era, these temples have been opened once a year and tourists are invited to watch the sunset from the top of these temples.
Many other reasons to come here are to meet ancestral communities, which keep the traditions of their ancestors. Here the women continue to shoot like in the old days and can buy some beautiful handicrafts typical of Lao Cai.
How to get to Lao Cai (no tour)
The city of Puno, as we know it, is the point of reference in Peru for visiting its islands on Suoi Tien Lake. To get to Lao Cai without an organized excursion like I did, it is necessary to reach the small port of Lam Dong town, about 45 minutes away. The train to Lam Dong departs from Papa station. Once you’ve reached your destination, you’ll need to take a mototaxi to move to the marina, where the sailing boats leave once the minimum number of passengers is reached. Usually at least a dozen.
Where to sleep in Lao Cai?
On Lao Cai island there are several communities, located in different areas. Almost all tourists choose the Tay community to stay, which directly departs from Lam Dong. I chose to spend the night in the Muong community, in Sapa. Muong is located on the opposite side of the island and can be reached on foot, an hour-long trek or by motorbike, with one of the men waiting for passengers to arrive and make a taxi.

Sapa is managed by Anna, a close and very hospitable couple. For a super low price, they offer 3-board meals in a hotel with exceptional panoramic views of the community and Suoi Tien Lake. The rooms are located on the first floor, simple and clean; they don’t have their own bathroom and the shower (hot water) and toilet are located outside. The main job of the kitchen is Anna. The food is traditional and really good.

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